Over the next 10 days, the Star will reveal our picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Our countdown continues today with Nemer Hassey, who has twice reached the state title game and never had a losing season.
No. 10: Nemer Hassey
Schools: Cienega and Sahuaro
Years in coaching: 1998-present
Local record: 130-48
Achievements: Hassey was hired as the first teacher at Cienega in 2001, and has since built a football dynasty in Vail. Under his guidance, the Bobcats have never had a losing season and have won at least eight games in eight different years. Prior to starting Cienega’s program, he led Sahuaro to three straight winning seasons and a trip to the 1999 state title game, where the Cougars fell to Scottsdale Chaparral 27-10. Hassey led Cienega to the championship game in 2011 but once again came up short against the Firebirds. That season remains the best in Cienega’s short history as the Bobcats opened the season with 13 straight wins before losing to Chaparral 37-14 at Sun Devil Stadium in the Division II state final. It was also the final season in a three-year stretch where Cienega won 35 games while losing just five. Hassey’s teams had finished with a winning record every season before last fall, when the Bobcats started 1-5 before winning their final four games.
Memorable moment: Hassey’s first-ever game as a head coach came in 1998, when Sahuaro took on archrival Sabino — a team that went 13-1 and reached the 4A state final in the previous year. More than 6,000 fans watched as the Cougars fell behind 13-0. Sahuaro stormed back behind quarterback Reggie Robertson, who threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final 9 minutes, including the game-winner to Chad Huber with 3 minutes 34 seconds remaining. Sahuaro won 20-19, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Sabercats. Coach Jeff Scurran’s Sabino team didn’t lose again that year, finishing 12-1-1 and winning the 4A state title.
From the archives: “When we lost the state championship game while we were at Sahuaro, someone snapped a photo of (Hassey) getting the runner-up trophy and it looked like someone had kicked him in the gut. I’ve never seen someone look so miserable touching a trophy. He keeps that photo in his office and said he looks at it every day to remind him of how much he doesn’t like being second.” — former Cienega offensive coordinator Ethan Hurley in the Oct. 15, 2010, Arizona Daily Star.
Big number: 10. Hassey coached Cienega to 10 consecutive postseason berths between 2003 and 2012. In 13 total trips to the state playoffs, Hassey is 15-13 with two state championship game appearances.
Coming up: Find out who is ranked No. 9 in Saturday’s Star.